Lab d4: Health and fitness

Health and fitness

This interview was conducted on the OboxPlanet by Dr. Lee, a physician visiting from Earth. 

Dr. Lee: You are 60 years old. We are talking about health and fitness. What do you understand by these terms?

Spock: In my personal view, health is living without pain or physical restrictions. Fitness is a good feeling and the reward for exercising. Since exercising tends to support my health, I believe they belong together.

Dr. Lee: how long do you expect to live and how much of it in good health?

Spock: Well, average life expectancy is 120 years and increasing, I feel like I will be on the upper reach of the chart, therefore, at least 120 years in good health. 

Dr. Lee: Let’s start with health. Who provides your healthcare and who pays for it?

Spock: Me, of course. It’s my life and my health. Who else could possibly be responsible? Plus: almost everything I do has a potential impact on my health. If I care about my health, it is part of almost all my decisions. My parents taught me that body and soul work together: “mens sana in corpore sano.”

Dr. Lee: That sounds like you are a slave to health considerations. Where’s the fun?

Spock: Let me explain it with techniques you know from  Earth. You use apps and cell phones. Imagine you have an all-encompassing health app. You enter your goals, at work, family, personal, and it gives you advice in all relevant areas. It suggests what to eat, when and how to exercise, and even when to relax or seek psychological advice. It knows your body better than you do, registering pulse, blood pressure, oxygen, and other body composition measures. It takes everything into account and diagnoses diseases, of course.

Dr. Lee: What about obesity and weight control?

Spock: I remember a couple decades ago, when I was young, it was still an issue, nowadays we do it mostly via controlling appetite. You can do that with an additive to a drink in the morning and sometimes before meals, others take a break in virtual reality, whatever your app suggests that you. 

Dr. Lee: Who pays for all of this and can everybody afford it? 

Spock: Most diagnostics are done by computers. The same goes for psychological advice. Surgeries are performed by robots in small hospitals, if you can even call them hospitals, and the same applies to rehabilitation therapy. For basic medical health needs, prices have come down to a fraction of what they used to be. You can compare it to what happened to other basic needs. Two hundred years ago, people paid a large part of their income for food, and later generations had huge healthcare bills. Today, both take up only a small fraction of our income. We pay for most treatments as we go.

Dr. Lee: Are there no huge costs for specialized medicine?

Spock: Yes, there are, and for those needs, there is insurance. Since it’s a rare occurrence, it is quite affordable.

Dr. Lee: With so much wealth left over, what do you spend it on?

Spock: Life extension therapies like cell and genetic therapies are all cutting-edge technologies and rather pricy.

Dr. Lee: What about fitness? Do you work out a lot?

Spock: I have my basic fitness machine, which allows me to activate and build muscle without much effort. Everyone has such machines. But it’s no fun. I love the satisfaction of effort, to sweat and exhaust myself. Plus, I love to play tennis and soccer, and you need to train and work out to keep your skills. Sports and fitness play an important role in my life, as they do in most people’s lives—both active sports and attending sports events.

Technology has increased precision and decreased costs in many medical fields, just like eye-lasering on the earth. Most operations, including cosmetic, are performed by robots. And opium-based painkillers keep patients just about pain-free all their lives and, as mentioned above, pharmaceutics has eliminated Alzheimer, Parkinson, diabetes, overweight, dementia…

“The healthy person has many wishes, the sick person only one…”

The interview is conducted on Earth and with Dr. Lee, a physician and an experienced visitor to the OboxPlanet. 

Interviewer: Dr. Lee, you have visited the OboxPlanet and studied the health and fitness situation. What are the results? Are people healthier there?

Dr. Lee: It pains me to say it, but the difference is huge, and in all respects, it’s better than on Earth. To give you a sense of the difference: people’s life expectancy is 120 years, mostly in good health, and they look healthier and younger. We know that trend from Earth. Take a photo of 60-year-olds from our parents’ generation and project the improvements a hundred years into the future.

Interviewer: That is hard to believe. What are the main causes?

Dr. Lee: People’s greater self-responsibility and wealth. The role of greater wealth is easy to understand. Once you have a nice car, a nice house, and you can eat anything you want anytime you want, what do you spend additional wealth on? There is no limit to what you can spend on health and fitness, such as health food, fitness programs, medication, plastic surgery, artificial organs, and a stream of new cell and gene therapies…

Interviewer: Sounds like what is happening on Earth.

Dr. Lee: Exactly. On Earth, too, these industries are huge growth markets, but they pale in comparison to the OboxPlanet. Let’s remember that on the OboxPlanet, without state borders, more people have had more wealth in general and therefore more to spend on health and fitness and the corresponding research efforts all over the world. On Earth, so far, the market is limited to the wealthiest parts of the world and even there, it gets less attention in comparison.

Interviewer: You mean, assuming the same amount of wealth, on Earth, health and fitness get less attention? Explain, please.

Dr. Lee: The states on Earth regulate just about all aspects of health and fitness. They license professions, regulate products and medications, impose mandatory insurance schemes, finance hospitals and research, etc. Regulations always mean restrictions, and this hampers production and invention and restricts the consumer’s choices. When you have less freedom and choice, it discourages self-determination and self-responsibility.

Interviewer: How does this greater self-responsibility play out more concretely?

Dr. Lee: On the production side, anybody can propose and offer any therapies, cures, and products. There is a flood of ideas and inventions pouring onto the market, all trying to get attention. More choice tends to make people more selective and critical. They look for what works in reality. They seek role models who live inspiring and successful lives.

Moreover, the political aspects of life on Earth do not exist on OboxPlanet. There are no local, national, or international politics and no wars. All of this attention goes to questions about how to run your personal life, of which “health and fitness” is a significant part.

Interviewer: What things do they have that we need urgently?

Dr. Lee: They pretty much have what we are working on, and then some. The futurist Jose Luis Cordeiro predicts that on Earth, “death will be optional by 2045, thanks to exponential advances in artificial intelligence, tissue regeneration, stem cell treatments, organ printing, cryopreservation, and genetic or immunological therapies that will solve the problem of aging.” I haven’t heard anyone say death is optional on the OboxPlanet, but this gives you an idea of what is going on there.

Interviewer: And are people happier?

Dr. Lee: That’s a good question. They have less physical pain and no more cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other terrible diseases we still know. But they are still humans. Personally, I believe being human means having challenges, things that we want to improve. As I like to say: “life is worth living to the extent that there are values to pursue,” which implies some things we want to improve, “states of uneasiness,” as Ludwig von Mises termed it. After all, if we have it all, if we feel no uneasiness, what is the point of getting up in the morning? The question then becomes: what is happiness, and what challenges should we pursue? It’s a philosophical question to which I have found no answers, neither on the OboxPlanet…

Interviewer: To sum it up: besides living longer in good health, what is your overall impression regarding health and fitness?

Dr. Lee: On OboxPlanet, without state paternalism, people take a more self-responsible, more holistic approach to health. “Mens sana in corpore sano” they say—you cannot separate physical health from taking care of your soul, or whatever you want to call it. My impression is that this greater self-responsibility results in more optimism, more pride, and confidence—more self-esteem, if you will.

What experiences on Earth, past and present, help us understand life on the OboxPlanet?

Once again, let’s start in the 19th century, when state involvement in health care was minimal and people for the first time had steadily increasing incomes which permitted them to test new medical procedures and medications. Progress was rapid and medical treatments ever more accessible, one important contributing factor to the increasing life expectancy.

Of course progress did not happen without errors but because people could choose, mistakes were corrected as quickly as possible. Employers started paying for accidents at the workplace and communities and business firms established health insurance schemes. US Representative Ron Paul, a medical doctor, recounts how in the 1960’s, it was common practice to pay visits at the doctor cash and that poor people would get treated for free. There was little bureaucracy and nobody was left in the cold to die.

Switzerland only introduced mandatory health insurance in 1994 with the main promise of cost controls. We claim that more state means higher costs, and this is one more illustration. Costs since 1996 are not down, but up 150% within 25 years, with wages up 25% in the same time period. And while some of it can be contributed to increased services, nobody contests that a great part is the controlling administration apparatus.

As for the argument that “increased technology leads to higher costs”, it is interesting to note that where the state medical program does not pay, costs are rapidly decreasing. Eye lasering is down more than 50%, and so are many cosmetic procedures.

By considering these examples, we can gain insights into the potential of a stateless society, such as our hypothetical OboxPlanet, where healthcare is abundant, affordable, and readily available to all.

Now it’s your turn:

In what respect would you want to improve your health or fitness? Lose weight? Correct your looks? Treat your soul?

Things we could learn and implement from the OboxPlanet:

Abolish all medical licensing and prohibitions for practitioners, drugs, and any devices.


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